SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The US Supreme Court has decided to give death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis another chance to prove his innocence before a Georgia federal judge.
No one was expecting the high court to rule on Davis' petition for a hearing until late September or October.
The case was decided during summer recess for the high court and the news Monday morning took family members on both sides by surprise.
Almost 20 years ago, Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail was murdered. Troy Davis was convicted of the crime in 1991 and sentenced to die.
Davis still sits on death row, but Monday's decision by the Supreme Court has given his family new hope.
"I am so glad it was good news about Troy," Davis' sister, Martina Correia, told WTOC.
Correia and her mother Virginia Davis have reason to be happy. Davis' case will be heard by a judge in a federal district court in Savannah during an evidentiary hearing.
"We wanted people to have an opportunity to hear the witnesses and let them tell their stories and what happened. They would see there is so much doubt in this case. He should not be executed," Correia said.
"Very frustrating. It wasn't just witness testimony that put Mr. Davis away," Mark MacPhail Jr. told WTOC.
Officer MacPhail's son and his family have waited for justice and watched the Troy Davis case take the media by storm in recent years.
"It's very frustrating. People are focusing on Troy, not looking at what my father gave up. He lost his life," MacPhail said. "20 years ago we were told he would be put to death. Here we are still waiting."
MacPhail says his family hopes the evidentiary hearing puts an end to any doubts people have about the night his father was killed.
"It's only a hearing. It's not a new trial. Just a hearing to get everything out front," he said.
"This has always been about the truth and we are trying to find the truth in this case," Correia said.
A majority of the US Supreme Court justices sided with Davis and granted an evidentiary hearing. This is the first time they have taken an action like this in 50 years.
There is no set time for when this hearing will take place, but when it does, the DA's office says it could take a long time before anything is decided.